Dear Frenemy by Monet Bouie

Dear Frenemy,

Before I begin, how are you? I hope you’re doing well. But then again, I hope you burn in Hell. Haha! Anyways, I decided to write this letter to commemorate our accomplishments and future while nostalgically looking at our past. From our passive-aggressive quorls and glares to spilling tea in the writing center and hanging out in a mutual friends basement, this year has been one hell of a ride. I’ll make it short, because you don’t deserve a long letter.

Our story began on a stage our freshmen year in a class taught by a buffoon. It’s funny, I’ve known about you for four years, yet I don’t have a single memory of you before this year. I knew you only by your name. You were funny (lookin’), great at improvisation, and had luscious mahogany locs that cascaded to your shoulders.  And frankly, you were a little weird. Despite the fact that I perceived you as a pale and strange, little leprechaun, you’ve always had this magnetic aura that attract our peers and teachers that I’ve been jealous of.

Fast forward to this year and, oh boy, what a year is has been! It’s as if every interaction with you is a swift and painful slap on the back of my neck. You have track record for making me look like a fool! Whenever you’re around I tense up and I’m ready with a rebuttal to any stupid thing you say (and there’s a lot of them). You’re a dramatic and narcissistic asshole who lives and breaths Chick-fil-A. You scarf down poptarts, manspread, and you walk around a room like you own the place. And, sure, you choked on a chicken biscuit, so what? Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who’s annoyed so much in my life. Yet again, I’ve never felt such admiration for someone my age.

Although I get a migraine whenever you’re in a 5-yard radius, I appreciate you. Through my envy of your creativity and writing, I’ve pushed myself to become a better writer. Without you I wouldn’t be warming up to improv. Without you I wouldn’t have worked with an amazing cast on an priceless 10-minute play this spring. Without you I wouldn’t have worked my butt of to get more conferences in the writing center. Now listen, I know this sounds sappy. I don’t really care for you and you don’t care for me either. But even if we don’t talk in the future, I’d like to let you know that you are a key part of my senior year.

Thanks and I wish you the best.


The Bastard of New York part 3 by Harlan-Friedman Romell

The year? 1986. The month? December. The place? Your apartment; ‘tis a blustery, winter night in The City That Never Sleeps. You look over Central Park, a raging blizzard tears its way across the now-barren wasteland. A frosty flurry whacks your face, reminding you of your past transgressions with The Sultan of Smooth. He’s all that’s on your mind now. Well, him and the baby.

Four months have passed since your last conversation with Mr. Sinatra. That night was a much needed respite from constantly denying your husband the truth, even if it turned rather sour in the middle.

Speaking of, Woody and Soon-Yi have been acting quite differently as of late. Sure, being pregnant at 42 isn’t exactly normal either, but their relationship has noticeably changed abruptly. He’s been taking her to the ‘Knicks games,’ but sometimes they’ll go out when there’s not one scheduled. It’s one of many life questions that keep you up into the wee small hours of the morning.

And a wee small hour of the morning it most certainly is. Ronan is coming any minute now, and you haven’t gotten any closure from his father. It’s almost as though he’s-

The phone rings, unexpectedly so. You weren’t expecting a call, and yet that’s precisely what you’ve been waiting for. Who you’ve been waiting for.

You run over to the handset, hands trembling. You’re ready to hear him a final time.

You pick it up, exhale softly, and begin your speech.

“Listen, I need to talk to you. Because I love you, and I don’t care about anyone else-”

A woman cuts you off. “Mia?”

“Barbara?” Uh oh. That’s his wife.


“Oh. Sorry. I was expecting someone else-”

“Frank, right?”

You’ve been caught.

“Barbara, I can explain everything, I’m sorry-”

She cuts you off. “Mia, don’t bother. You’re not the only one he’s been seeing.”

Your heart sinks. How could he do this to you? How could he show such intense passion for one night, and then consort with some no-name floozy the next? One night, and then mess around with some floozy the next? Barbara was one thing, but now there’s more?

“Mia, I’m, I’m sorry. I really am. I know you two had something really special, and I’m okay with that. But, I’m calling because, because he’s just taken off! Out of the blue! I haven’t seen him for days!”

As your heart sank moments before, you feel it flutter upon hearing those words. Maybe you’ll get your closure after all.

“Oh, no,” you worry disingenuously, “where do you think he is?”

And just like that, there’s a knock outside your door. It must be him.

“I assumed that you knew where he might be. Mia? Mia? Mia, are you there?-”

You hang that tramp up. You run over to the door; it swings open, revealing five feet and eight inches of pure man. Frank is here.

“I don’t care what anyone says, about us. I love you, Mia.”

“I know. I love you too.”

He breathes a sigh of relief, relaxes his broad shoulders, and takes you in his arms. Oh, how you’ve missed this. How you wish the two of you could remain in this sweet embrace until the end of time, until the world explodes.

“We can’t keep going on like this,” you wistfully say.

“I know. But I will always be here for you, darling.”

He smoothly caresses your face as the your lips envelop each others. It’s pure bliss.

He pulls away.

“And one for my baby.”

As Frank gently kisses the top of your stomach, you feel a kick. And then, immediately following, a pop.

You step back and look down. There’s a small amount of fluid slowly trickling down your leg.

“He’s, he’s here. Frank, he’s here-” you’re quivering.

He rushes to your side. “I can take you to the hospital, Mia.”

“I never meant for any of this, Frank, I really didn’t-”

“It doesn’t matter what you meant to happen, my dear. All that matters is what actually happened. And right now, we need to go.”

Frank takes you out of your apartment, down the stairs, through the lobby and out into his car. Mr. Jacobs is waiting.

“George,” Frank commands, “take us to Mount Sinai. Now!”

“Of course.”

You drive off to the hospital, and by the time you arrive you’re already in immense pain. Throughout the incredibly long and arduous sixteen hour labor, Frank is by your side every second. Through the blood, sweat, tears, and emotional wounds, he’s there.

And eventually, he pops out. Your son. He’s beautiful. He has his father’s eyes.

In that moment, all is well. You and Frank lay in the calming and warm recovery room for what seems like hours, bodies intertwined on the bed, with little Ronan between you. Everything is perfect. But moments of such pure beauty and love can only last for so long.

“I should go,” Frank acknowledges, “Woody will be here soon.”

“Just a little while longer.”

“A little while longer and the press will have me for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Mia.”

“I know, I know. I just wish things were different.”

“Me too.”

He gets up to leave.

“I guess this is goodbye,” you lament. Tears are flowing, and you’re letting them out.

Frank looks back with his deep, Adriatic eyes. He’s got tears in his, too. He gently croons, just for you:


I’ll never forget you.

I’ll never forget you.

I’ll never forget how we promised one day,

To love one another forever that way.

We said we’d never say, “Good-bye.”


But that was long ago.

Now you’ve forgotten, I know.

No use to wonder why.

Let’s say farewell with a sigh.

Let love die.


But we’ll go on living,

Our own way of living.

So you take the high road and I’ll take the low.

It’s time that we parted,

It’s much better so.

But kiss me as you go.



He walks over to your bed, plants a kiss on the baby’s forehead, and then on your lips.

He breaks away, smiling through the heartache. Oh, how you love his real smile. So sweet, so genuine.

And then, he leaves.


Now, it’s just you and your son. Satchel Ronan O’Sullivan Farrow Sinatra. The result of one torrid, forbidden love affair between you, Mia Farrow, and your one true love, Frank Sinatra, of which the world is oblivious to.

And that, my friends, is the story of The Bastard of New York.

The Ongoing Process of the College Essay by Bronwyn Warnock

Throughout junior year, students at Shaker Heights High School, as well as many other high schools, will complete college essay drafts. The goal at the end of junior year is to leave the school building feeling like you have a pretty good understanding of what you will choose to write about for colleges. Many times, it leaves students at a significant advantage over other applicants to plan ahead for college essays.

Personally, I get some level of writing anxiety every time I receive an assignment. I’m not scared to write at all, in fact I love it. Yet, my writing anxiety comes from trying to make sure every last detail is absolutely perfect. I tend to overthink the boundaries and extent of an assignment if I spend too much time on it. Instead of allowing my thoughts to flow overtime, I tend to bag up what I am feeling and never get to a point in which I am truly satisfied.

While in high school, I have completed a great amount of applications and each one seems to have a writing section. The same cliche topics appear time after time, but instead of trying to write the responses right away, I simply read the question. I let the question and/or prompt float around in my head for a few days. I think about different topics and various aspects of my life that I can write about. One day, when I see fit, I simply sit down at my laptop and start pounding my fingers away. My ideas and thoughts are able to flow from my head and most importantly from my heart. When I write my prompts in this way, I don’t overthink my writing or underestimate my ideas. Once I feel confident with all of my responses and read them over to four or five people, I submit the application. Overtime, I have come to learn that when I write in this fashion, I tend to be more open and personable. I let my feelings go and don’t worry about trying to make myself out to be some perfect applicant. I show the organizations who I truly am and what I can do, and for me, that’s all right. I’ve come to learn that there’s not always a need to pick apart and stress over every single comma in an essay. Placing your best foot forward with you own opinions and emotions is the best way to show who you are to someone reading your writing.

XC is the Sport for Me by Jake Lehner

I joined my high school cross-country team three weeks after the season started. After all, it’s just running, right? I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Without any summer training, I ran my first tempo workout, sprinting 600-meter intervals in the hot sun. I felt my lunch from two hours before sloshing around in my stomach. I needed to get myself into running shape.

The following summer at Interlochen Arts Camp, I spent my free time running laps around campus. Since each lap was less than a mile, I ran the same loop at least eight times per day. Without headphones, I breathed to the rhythm of the songs playing in my head. It was grueling, but before I knew it, camp was over I had earned the respect of my teammates. I felt like a superstar.

I dropped more time in my junior year, and my coach let me know of his intentions to make me captain. But, my season didn’t exactly go as planned.

Though I trained consistently throughout the summer, I saw little improvement. The rest of the team was getting faster, and I wasn’t. I lost my varsity spot.

But, what I lacked in speed, I made up for in leadership. I worked hard to ensure that the freshman felt comfortable. I wanted to do for the new runners what I wished the seniors had done for me. My fellow captains and I built a culture that embraces all runners, no matter their talent. On our team, everybody is varsity. My legacy is not defined by how well I ran, but by the culture that I helped build. (*Drop Mic*)

Mirrors by Josh Skubby

Image result for guy looking into mirror

We’re always in our own shoes. Nobody else will ever know our thoughts, dreams, or regrets to the extent we do; they don’t even get particularly close. For most of us, we don’t even understand why we think the way we do, so it’s damn near impossible to understand someone else’s thoughts and emotions.

But that relationship shifts drastically when we pivot from the mental to the physical. On the day-to-day, we see other people just doin’ their thing. I see my friends in the hallway and I watch my teachers lecture for nearly an hour each day. They smile and frown, laugh and (occasionally) cry. Their heads tilt one way or the other. Their brows furrow in frustration, or raise in excitement.

We don’t see that from ourselves. We feel those emotions in the moment. Pride, sadness, frustration, validation, gratification, and so many more. But we don’t see how they fit onto our faces. Nearly every time we see ourselves, it’s some sort of premeditated event. Generally, you know when your picture will be taken, or you willingly look into a mirror. You’d be hard-pressed to find a candid photo or video of yourself (probably for good reason). Be it reflection or photo, most of the images we see of ourselves are deliberate. They aren’t spontaneous, and don’t show us in our natural state. The emotions and expressions that actually give us personality aren’t represented in a mirror.

So when we look into a mirror, I don’t think we see the truest reflection of ourselves. All the little tics that make up our demeanor are absent. And so, our perception of ourselves and others are skewed a little bit. We can’t even begin to imagine what everyone else is thinking, but we also aren’t totally in touch with our own appearances. What we broadcast to the world each and every day, we hardly ever see.

Travel by Molly Spring

Traveling holds such a special place in my heart. Immersing oneself in another culture teaches you lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom. Travel teaches you how to live simply, breathe deeply, and love completely. It teaches you acceptance, toleration, and passion. I truly believe that there is nothing more valuable than traveling to a place that pushes you out of your comfort zone, and forces you to really consider what your priorities and values are in life.


This past spring break, I embarked on the trip of a lifetime. Ten days in various parts of a country I had never read or heard about up until the trip location was announced last spring. I did as much research as I could, reading about the history, economy, government, different tribes, and languages. When I returned home, I realized there is nothing more valuable than what I learned from the people I met there. In the village of Sop Won, I accepted everything that was thrown my way, regardless of how I felt. In a home with four other Shaker students, and a host family that knew only how to speak Lao, I was put into a very tough situation. I was hesitant and scared about how I would be able to navigate such a language barrier. Lao has zero similarities to English. No cognates, no similar sounding words, nothing. Little did I know, it did not matter. My group’s relationship with our host family worked out just fine with zero communication, verbally. We learned to communicate more expressively or show our words through motions, and that was reciprocated by our host family. You can learn a lot from others, whether or not you speak the same language.

I am forever grateful for the lessons that travel has taught me thus far as they have taught me to be more reflective, more thoughtful, and more appreciative of all things in life.

Joe-Joe’s: A Love Letter by Fenner Dreyfuss-Wells

I’ve come to hate Oreos. That ever-present occupant of grocery store shelves, that staple snack of the American household. Flavors abound: orange creme for Halloween, purple on Easter. Oreos dominate the modern convenience store culture, pushing out competition. They’re an overbearing multinational corporation, without heart or passion, hell-bent on cold profit. All I can see now are the rows and rows and rows and rows moving down the factory assembly line, churned out by hard metal robots who have no clue what love means. Double Stuf. Most Stuf. Thins. That loud blue package makes me want to scream.

But Joe-Joe’s, Trader Joe’s answer to the evil Oreo, give me hope. They don’t pretend to be anything they aren’t. The package is covered with warm designs, loving artwork, colors that draw me in. They’re unpretentious, subtle; they exist and they don’t care if you eat them or not. They sit on that Trader Joe’s shelf, content with just being themselves. And even the taste is better. Oreos long ago forgot where they came from, the creme filling as artificial as it can be. But Joe-Joe’s remind you that they are made with actual milk. It’s a flavor note that sits in the back of your mind, there when you want it, reassuring you that there’s hope for the sandwich cookie world yet.

Thank you, Joe-Joe’s. Thank you.

The New Yorker by Astrid Braun

Once a month, I walk by the dining room table on my way to the kitchen and spot a magazine that looks different from the others — politically charged cover art and a unique typeface that draw my eye immediately. When I was younger, I used to look forward to the arrival of The New Yorker for reasons apart from the political commentary and niche news pieces; then, I was primarily focused on the comics section on the last page. I would flip to the back of the issue, look at the newest contest piece, read the three contenders for last month’s contest, and giggle at the winning caption in the bottom right. If I understood it, that is.

After the caption contest page, I would flip through the issue back to front in search of the cartoons scattered across stories. When I reached the table of contents, I flipped the magazine shut and went along with my day.

One month, however, as I flipped through the cartoons, making my way toward the cover, a headline caught my eye. I don’t remember what the story was about, nor do I remember when this happened, but I imagine it was sometime in eighth or ninth grade. Whatever the subject of the story was, it intrigued me, and I began to read. I didn’t pause until I reached the article’s conclusion.

I didn’t know then that my first experience with a New Yorker article would closely mirror all other experiences. Today, I still read The New Yorker back to front, though I’m as aware of the articles on the page as the comics. Once I start reading, I can’t stop, and I’m always left satisfied with the quality of both the content and the writing.

I know the magazine is the pinnacle of haughty liberal media, and I don’t use it as my main source of news. But in the area of cultural, political and societal criticism, The New Yorker is unparalleled — so when I want some food for thought, it has never left me wanting. I just need to remember my dictionary.

Rules for Talking to Potential Roommates by Ava Byrne

Having committed to a college, my next quest on this journey is to find a roommate. I am frustrated with the roommate-finding process to say the least and I manage to complain about it every day in the writing center (shout out to all the 6/7 interns who have to listen to me). However, my real frustration comes from the digital interactions I’ve had with potential roommates via Instagram.

Trying to make small talk with a complete stranger over social media is hard, I get it, but some people really don’t know how to act. So I’ve created a few guidelines to make the whole process smoother for both parties involved.

  1. If one person asks you a question and you reply, it is now YOUR responsibility to ask the next question to keep the conversation going. Imagine it like a game of ping pong, the ball goes back and forth to each person. This ensures its not a one-sided conversation.
  2. Make your questions interesting! Please be a little more creative than “what are you majoring in?”
  3. Send some memes! I had a girl send me memes and it told me way more about her than her major or what she’s most looking forward to in college ever could.
  4. Act interested in what people say to you, even if you’re not. Trust me, your lack of enthusiasm will be noticeable.
  5. Try to find something you both have in common like a favorite animal or TV show. This breaks the ice and immediately establishes something you guys can talk about. This is an activity that I’ve done at camp but it can totally be applicable in this situation too.
  6. Don’t let the other person always be the first one to reach out.

Road Trip Tips by Abigail Beard

Road trips are a natural part of life for me. Many a time I have trekked the 12-hour ride to Alabama in the family Honda, sometimes with, sometimes without air conditioning. Oftentimes, it can really suck to be stuck in a car hurling 60+ miles per hour on the highway surrounded by cornfields and not being able to stretch your legs. Here are some of my tips for when you have a longgg drive ahead of you:

1. Play A Game

Games are a great way to pass the time. Some of my personal favorites are I Spy, count the cattle, or “how many Christian billboards can you find.”

2. Take Photos

I like to take pictures of the sky or the skylines of the cities we pass through. My favorite pictures are of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River.

3. Visit Dino World… 

…Or any of the other various generic theme parks off of the highway’s rural exits.

4. Read a book…

…For about 5 minutes, or until you realize that it’s impossible to read in a bumpy car.

5. Obsess about the amount of schoolwork you’re missing

This needs no explanation.

6. Make (crude) jokes about the stuff you see along the way

One of my favorite road trips was when we exited the highway to look for someplace to eat. As we were driving down the road, we passed a store with confederate flags covering the storefront. That was when we realized that we weren’t all so hungry after all. We joked to ourselves that the store probably wouldn’t let us use an NAACP discount… or use the bathroom.

7. Gossip

This works better with a group of 3+ travelers. Topics that have come up in the car have been a) the R Kelly case, b) singers and their plastic surgeries, c) institutional racism.

8. Enjoy time with family

A long, boring car ride is the perfect time to bond with family members. If you don’t end up strangling each other over the course of the road trip, you may just grow a little closer.